according to some, the basil herb acquired its name from “basilica”- the rectangular-structured type of christian church where, in medieval times, basil was planted in the basilica gardens.
others claim the name is a derivative of the greek word βασιλέας (vasiléas), meaning “king”, with possible reference to it being prescribed by ancient doctors for its health benefits.
whatever the origins of its name, throughout history basil has been a popular and versatile folk remedy. since the sixth century it has been taken to improve blood circulation and digestion. it has been used externally to soothe sore eyes and relieve itching. with its natural anti-bacterial properties, basil has also been used to treat bad breath, protect from tooth decay and to treat headaches and flatulence.
basil is either eaten raw or used as an ingredient in pastries, stews and sauces such as pesto.
in italy, basil is considered to be a symbol of love, with a stem in a man’s hair traditionally signifying his intention to marry his sweetheart. if the woman chose to accept the suitor, she could indicate this by displaying basil on her balcony.
basil plants are normally short-lived, lasting less than a year. “basil is not perennial and dies when the cold period arrives,” explains menni shadmi, the head of marketing of hishtil.
however, there’s good news for those who’d like to enjoy their home-grown basil all year round. hishtil has successfully used grafting techniques to combine two varieties of basil, creating the world’s first non-stop basil plant. this special formula results in a tree-like plant with a sturdy trunk topped with a ball-shaped head loaded with tasty, aromatic leaves, which continues growing leaves long after normal basil plants have turned to compost. it goes by the name of the “long foot basil” tree.
“long foot” has been developed to have improved tolerance to pests and drought. it can be grown outside in the garden or patio in summer, or inside near a window.” take it out into the garden for summer and bring it inside where it’s warm in winter. it will survive for five years” shadmi says.
with its bonsai-like stature, “long foot” is a perfect urban herb to grow in the home for continual culinary harvesting. to keep the plant healthy, ensure it retains two-thirds leaf coverage at all times and clip regularly to maintain the crown’s tidy shape. failure to trim the crown will result in it growing too large (50 cm diameter) and eventually collapsing open. this can be rectified by cutting the crown back to leave 3-5 cm long shoots and waiting 2 to 3 weeks for the plant to reestablish its full size.
* 35-38 cm high above the pot rim
* crown diameter 25 cm
* trunk height 18-22 cm
* trunk diameter 7-8 mm
* the finished product is best supplied in a 3-liter container, but can be grown in various pot sizes from 1 to 10 liters.
* crop time: 3-5 months depending on growing conditions.
16°c at night, 24°c by day. (min. 10°c max. 40°c). full sun exposure will enhance compact and healthy plants.
perennial. flowering prevention by clipping off the buds is recommended, though not necessary.
increased fertilization is essential in the winter, with fertilizer to be applied on sunny days. during summer, fertilization should be given in small amounts or avoided altogether.